Sunday, September 19, 2010

The BBC is almost certain to receive an exemption from crucial parts of the new Equality Act, but you could be forgiven for thinking they are still remarkably keen to promote religion - at least inasmuch as that means promoting the Roman Catholic religion. It just so happens that Roman Catholicism is the faith of Mark Thompson, the BBCs own Director-General.

It was, in fact, Mark Thompson who, at the prompting of the BBC Trust's Michael Lyons, wrote to then government minister Lord Carter in April last year apparently asking for broadcasters to be exempted from provisions in the Equality Act. The reason advanced by the DCMS for the exemption is that the BBC must be 'editorially independent.'

Recall the first of the BBC's six Values:

Trust is the foundation of the BBC: we are independent, impartial and honest.

Hayley's Wednesday report about the Pope and Vatican City (previous blog) - does that come across to you as impartial?

In the 5pm flagship bulletin on BBC One the same day, Ore told viewers that lots of people don't agree with what the Pope stands for, and that children in the care of Catholic priests had been "mistreated." Robert Pigott said people are asking why the Pope didn't do more to help, but he failed to mention that Ratzinger was actually one of key players keeping the abuse under wraps.

Other reasons for the Pope being unwelcome here went unreported altogether by Newsround, and many kids will have been left with the clear overall impression that the Pope is a benign person.

BBC bias was most significant last night during the Protest the Pope demonstration in central London. Although there had been some coverage of the Demonstration during the day on the BBC News channel, including a short live broadcast of speeches outside Downing Street, the BBC chose at 4.40pm to cut away from a keynote speech by Geoffrey Robertson QC, and instead show the Pope's motorcade on its way to a care home for elderly people.

Professor Richard Dawkins' speech was not shown live, but is available here.

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